Glasses are more than just a way to pretend you went to Yale. They define your look. Because they're the first thing people notice, they make a stronger statement about who you are than any other accessory.
For men, especially, glasses say a lot, so it's important to make sure the message matches what you're trying to convey.
Sophie Guerard-Raubiet, an executive at eyeglass designer Alain Mikli for 12 years and manager of three boutiques on the East Coast (with additional locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco opening this summer), is an authority of matching the right frame to any individual's face. Here, she gives advice on finding the right eyeglasses for your face.
"The first things I check out when a man enters a store," says Guerard-Raubiet, "are his watch (Swatch or Rolex?) and his dress code (suit-and-tie conservative or casual?). This tells me about how he wants to project himself to the world. Then, I carefully observe his face. I scrutinize his facial hair, his cheekbones, the eyes (close- or wide-set … the distance between them) and, most importantly, the nose. When you put together what nature has given him, along with his own style preferences, a picture quickly emerges."
"Start with the shape of your face," she says. "As a general rule, you want to choose a frame that complements it. Designer Alain Mikli says that rectangular frames work on 95 percent of faces, especially round faces or those with sharp features. If you're trying to make a statement, those frames are almost never wrong."
The only face that should avoid a rectangular or square frame is a long, thin one. Those men should pick something rounder or fuller to take attention away from an overly horsey appearance.
If your eyes are very close to each other (or you have a "small pupillary distance," as they say in the biz), look for a frame in which your eyes are centered in each lens to avoid that unfortunate crossed-eyed look. Not a winner outside of Jerry Lewis conventions.
Don't try to hide your brow line, as doing so will only detract from your overall look and can overemphasize any irregularity of the eyes. Choose a frame that goes right under the brow and hits the top of your upper eyelid.
Dudes with thicker eyebrows or a unibrow should pursue a thin frame. Then, hire a landscaper to take away the background foliage.
If you're blessed with strong cheekbones or dark eyes -- or cursed with a lot of crinkles under the eye -- you should consider a semi-rimless frame with a thin metal frame on the top. This will let your cheekbones pop, and draw the attention away from under the eyes.
If you're mostly interested in making a fashion statement, here's a handy cheat sheet:
Conservative: Think Steven Colbert and choose plain metal or rimless frames. The upside is you'll blend in seamlessly. The downside, says Guerard-Raubiet, is that "it shows a lack of self-esteem, insecurity or shyness." But maybe that's her politics talking.
Intellectual: If you've always wanted to look like Woody Allen … or Harry Potter (and who hasn't?), go for a round shape in metal or acetate. Nerdy, yes, but at least people will know who they're dealing with: an intellect ... with bad eyes.
Trendsetter: Complete your Top Gun impersonation with a pair of sexy aviators. Do a Johnny Depp with roundish frames in tortoise or acetate. Go "Mad Men" with retro rectangular frames.
Sporty: Think rap star (like Kanye West) and go for the bling. The bigger, the better -- including the logo. You can actually get away with wrap-arounds, or lightly tinted lenses, or glasses made of rubber.
Rugged Individualist/Artist Manque: From Elton to Ali G to photographer Ron Agam, you can tell the world you're ready to roll with your purple, red or deep-blue frames with a strong rim in metal or acetate. If you've got the cojones to pull this off and you choose the right shape, this style can be magnificent and unique, just like you.
Suzanne Gerber is a writer whose work has appeared in InStyle, Elle, Redbook, Westport and Greenwich magazines. She's also a former editor of Vegetarian Times and Pilates Style.
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